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Last week I wrote about sorting through the filing cabinet which you can read about here.  The culling continued and we no longer require the 2 drawer filing cabinet as the small number of retained files are now accommodated in the filing drawer of the desk.

2020-07-20 01

One of the things we located in our cleaning up and decluttering was a poster showing plants which are environmental weeds in our region.  We acquired this some years ago and while it has proved to be a useful reference from time to time, it had remained rolled up in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet.

The poster was looking a bit the worse for wear but we decided to mount it where it was easily visible and useful as a quick guide.

Using PVA glue, I attached the poster to a piece of plywood.  This was the old backing of the mirror on a recently restored dressing table.  It was not suitable for reusing for the mirror as the plywood had splintered around the nail holes when removed.  However, I had kept it for possible future reuse.  I did not foresee that it would be needed quite so soon.

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I placed weights on top of the poster and left it to dry for 24 hours.  GMan then trimmed the excess plywood off using a jigsaw and we have screwed it to a door in the workshop.

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We have created a quick ready reference in a location where it is likely to be needed and reused material that might otherwise have been discarded.

A close-up view.

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More Modifications

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A few months ago I wrote about mending my mop.  You can read about it here.

Well, I have made another modification or addition to increase its versatility.

2020-07-08 01

We have a large expanse of timber decking which we recently had revarnished.  It can get quite dusty so I wanted to mop it.  However, I was not keen to destroy the sponge head which I use for the hard floors indoors.

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So, I set about making a removable cover.  This is a piece of old towel from my stash of rags which live in the cupboard below the laundry tub.  I actually remember this as my father’s beach towel about 50 years ago.

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Using the mop head as a template I cut a piece of towel and mitred the corners.

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I checked to see that it fitted before trimming the excess and finishing the raw edges.

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On the mop.

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I obviously needed to keep it in place so I sewed some salvaged elastic inside the edge to draw it over the mop head.

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The addition of a couple of ties to fully secure the cover in place.

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Ready to go.

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The end result.

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I was pleased to be able to create a solution using salvaged materials that I had on hand.  I addition to the old beach towel I used elastic retrieved from worn out underwear and the ties were from a long ago pair of trousers that had worn out.

The cover cannot easily be squeezed out so it is not suitable for indoor use but is perfect for washing down the verandah floor.

An Opportunist

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We were out and about this morning looking for some timber for our next outdoor project.  It was an area we do not usually frequent and I spied a flat-top truck parked by the side of the road.  It was piled with unpackaged fruit and vegetables so I quickly asked GMan to pull over so that I could see what was on offer.

I had bought fruit and vegetables 2 days ago which would probably last us at least 10 days but I was not about to pass up an opportunity.  There were zucchini, tomatoes, capsicums and lemons and everything was $2/kg.  It had been picked yesterday from a farm in an area about 3 hours drive to the north of where we live.  The tomatoes were not sufficiently ripe for me to consider them and we most definitely do not need lemons as we have 2 trees of our own.

Most of the capsicums were green but I selected a couple which were semi-coloured as well as several zucchini.

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This haul cost me $4.70.

While this was somewhat of an impulse buy, it was not without some consideration as to how I would use the produce.  The capsicums are quite large so I am going to cut one in half lengthwise and stuff them for dinner tonight and serve with a side of coleslaw.

I have cooked some quinoa to use as the basis for the stuffing.

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The remaining capsicum will probably be used in a roasted vegetable salad along with some of the zucchini as well as eggplant and mushrooms that I bought on Thursday.

I intend to make another zucchini quiche which will use up a couple more of the zucchini.

It is great to be able to directly support farmers as well as snapping up a bargain.

Most importantly, nothing will go to waste.

 

 

Minimalism, Decluttering and Zero Waste

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While each of these concepts or activities are all different and stand alone, they can be inter-related.

Here are some definitions/explanations of the three terms.

Minimalism – is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.  This comes from ‘The Minimalists’.  You can read the full article here.

Decluttering – to remove things you do not need from a place, in order to make it more pleasant and more useful.  From the Cambridge Dictionary.

Zero Waste – is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean.  From Wikipaedia.

Minimalism and decluttering are very personal and subjective topics and I am not here to tell you that you must only own a certain number of a particular item or what you should or should not remove from your life or home.

There is no good reason for the order in which I listed these topics but I feel as though decluttering should come first.  I think it would be almost impossible to consider minimalism without  first removing the clutter.

Identifying and removing clutter is the first step to clearing both physical and mental spaces.  However, beware of anyone who tells you that they they decluttered their entire home on the weekend.  It is best done as a considered and incremental process otherwise the results are likely to be the same as a ‘crash diet’.  You may lose your way and end up in a worse position than when you started.

Below are are couple of photos of my bathroom.  It did not always look like this.  I do not expect that is how yours should look.  It is simply an example.

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It is close to 20 years since I began to question the variety of lotions and potions I seemed to have but I did not throw any away.  I gradually used things up and did not replace them.  Routines have been simplified and we no longer use shampoo or conditioner.  I mostly wash my hair with plain water and occasionally use a small amount of body wash.  This was not a conscious decision but a by-product of questioning what we really need.  I am not alone as you can see here.

The reason that I mentioned not using shampoo or conditioner is that is a perfect example of how minimalism, decluttering and zero waste can be tied together.  My shower shelf and bathroom cabinet are not cluttered and our bathroom needs are minimal.  There are no shampoo bottles ending up in landfill or at best, possibly being recycled.  Additionally, trying to avoid harsh chemicals and toxins ceases to be an issue.

You do not need to subscribe to any particular philosophy but living an authentic life which works for you is important.

Your thoughts?

 

Leftover Lasagne

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Not lasagne that is leftover.  It is lasagne made from leftovers.

This post is not so much a recipe but a demonstration of what can be done to minimise food wastage.  A germ of an idea that grew……………….into dinner.

I make my own refried beans and for some reason 2 different containers were opened and in the refrigerator.  I decided that they needed to be used up.

From the freezer I sourced a small container of cooked brown rice and a bag of cherry tomatoes.  The tomatoes are from our garden – at least a year ago.

Once the rice was thawed, I heated it then added a beaten egg and pressed the mixture into the bottom of the dish.  Next was a layer of refried beans.

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Next, I headed to the garden to harvest one of the giant bok choy.  The stalks and leaves were chopped separately.  I wilted the shredded leaves in a pan and cooked the finely sliced stalks until tender.

Meanwhile, I made some white sauce.  I use potato starch and besan flour to thicken the mixture so that it is gluten free.  I then mixed in the bok choy.

The tomatoes were simmered and reduced, herbs and seasonings added.

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Then it was time to assemble the remainder.

Half of the bok choy/white sauce mixture then half of the tomato mixture.

Repeat with refried beans, bok choy and tomatoes.

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The final step will be to sprinkle with crumbs and grated cheese and bake until heated through.  I use flaxseed meal instead of breadcrumbs for a nutritious and gluten-free alternative.

This will make 4 generous adult serves so we will have half of it for dinner and the remainder for another meal.

 

 

Pandemic and Packaging

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As Plastic-Free July looms on the horizon, perhaps it is time consider one of the little-discussed ‘victims’ of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

For well over 20 years I have worked on reducing the packaging that comes into our home.  I take my own containers to buy dry goods (flour, nuts etc) from bulk bins.  I have been able to take my own bottles to the local Co-op to get them refilled with apple cider vinegar, tamari and olive oil.  The local IGA supermarket and butcher accepted my own containers for meat, fish and deli items including sun-dried tomatoes, olives and feta cheese.

However, everything changed as COVID-19 arrived.  I can still buy dry goods in my own jars as long as they are scrupulously clean and have no remnants of previous contents.  We eat very little meat so I have not been to the butcher since the pandemic began.  Neither the Co-op or IGA are accepting containers to refill at the moment.  Will this change back when things settle down?  Will it become the new normal and the years of action on single-use packaging be unravelled by one virus?  Only time will tell.

These changes have forced me to reconsider my shopping habits.  The item which has been impacted most significantly is olive oil.  I used to take a litre bottle to the Co-op for it to be refilled but now I am obliged to buy a new 750ml glass bottle for $2.95 each time I wish to buy the local, organic olive oil.

This bottle will simply be refilled from the drum of olive oil as required now.  No more bottles.

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We use a significant amount of olive oil so my interest was piqued when I saw a sponsored post on Facebook from Nuggety Creek Olives.  After a bit of reading I discovered that I could buy a 20 litre drum of olive oil for $180.00 delivered to my door.  The extra virgin olive oil is produced from olives grown without chemicals and I believe the farm is currently being audited for organic certification.

The Nuggety Creek olive oil arrived safely and is now stored in a cool, dry cupboard.  I even made a drip catcher from an old dip container and a piece of wire salvaged from the shed.

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20 litres may sound like a lot of oil but I will be sharing it with at least 3 friends.  Thinking outside the box has allowed me to continue to minimise the packaging that we generate.

Bottles filled and ready for distribution to friends.

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I have not bought any of the other items I mentioned as yet but my next project is to look into a bulk source of olives.  While I understand that all foodstuffs must come in some sort of packaging or container, unless you produce it yourself, I am keen to buy in larger quantities, and therefore, minimise the impact.

Have you considered changing your shopping habits since the pandemic began?  Would community bulk-buying be an option for at least some products?

The Pandemic Pantry – Leftovers

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Last night we had Mexican Quinoa for dinner.  You can find recipe here.  Since that original post, 3 years ago, I have modified it and eliminated the salami, making it a vegetarian dish.  Like many one pan dishes, the quantities are very flexible so you can easily adapt it to the number you are serving.

As I often do, I made more than I needed last night.  Instead of simply reheating for lunches or freezing for a future meal, I decided to make an entirely new dish.

Here is the leftover quinoa and some of the other ingredients.

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I used my basic zucchini quiche recipe with some modifications.  Instead of zucchini I grated 1 large carrot, the leftover quinoa and about a cup of baby spinach which I roughly chopped.  I did not use the onion as there was onion and other flavourings in the quinoa dish.

I would normally serve this with salad but I was inspired by what I had picked from the garden this afternoon.

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The quiche turned out really well.

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Served with balsamic roasted cherry tomatoes and butter beans.

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There is no photo but we finished off the meal with ice-cream and fresh homegrown raspberries.

The Pandemic Pantry – An Experiment

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I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I had set the apple peels and cores aside for another project.

In the interests of wasting nothing, I am experimenting with making apple cider vinegar.  I read and consulted several online recipes before deciding on the exact method to use.

But first I needed some suitable fabric to cover the jars.  I found a scrap of white linen from which to cut circles and I overlocked the edges.

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The peels and cores were packed into the glass jars, covered with water and sugar added.  The covers are held in place with rubber bands.  I labelled them with the details and they are now residing in a rarely-opened cupboard above the oven.

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NOTES:

The apples were organic so pesticide residue is not an issue.

Tonight I found this blog post which has recently been updated and indicates that what I am making should be correctly called Apple Scrap Vinegar.

I will let you know how the experiment turns out in a couple of months.

The Pandemic Pantry – A Windfall

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On Sunday evening a friend contacted me and asked if I would be interested in buying some organic celery and apples from a small business which had to close and was now unable to use the amount they had on hand.  I took 2 large bunches of organic celery and a couple of dozen small green apples which are also organic.

2020-03-31 01

I had a plan so it was out with the large stockpot which lives on the floor of my pantry and I was ready to make a large quantity of celery soup which is one of our favourites. The recipe below is for 1 regular bunch of celery so I actually multiplied it x 3 as the bunches of celery were huge.

CELERY SOUP

1 bunch of celery
2 medium potatoes
2 medium onions, diced
2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
Salt and pepper
6 cups (1500ml) water

Wash and roughly chop the celery, including the leaves.  Peel and chop the potatoes.  Lightly saute the onions.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to the boil then simmer until soft – at least 1 hour.  Allow to cool a little then blend until smooth.  Add more water if required to achieve desired consistency.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Here it is divided up and ready to freeze.

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This is a cheap and hearty meal when served with crusty bread or cheese scones.

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Then it was time to deal with the apples.  I peeled, cored and stewed them.  They are now packed away in the freezer for future use.

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I set the peels and cores aside for another project but more about that tomorrow.

 

Daily Bread

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Bread has long been a staple of our Western diet.  It comes in many and varied guises from the square white slices bagged in plastic bought from the supermarket to artisan sourdough loaves from trendy cafes and delis.

Then there is the seemingly elusive quest for a decent gluten free loaf.

Add the desire to reduce or eliminate plastic packaging and buying a loaf of bread really becomes a minefield.

For over 20 years GMan has made our bread.  This was before I began eating a gluten-free diet and we had 2 children at home.  He made white bread, grain bread and fruit loaf in a breadmaker using bread mixes from Laucke Flour Mills.  We made sandwiches, toast and toasted sandwiches – all with minimal packaging from the bread mix bags.

Things have changed and GMan now makes white bread from scratch in the breadmaker as well as fruit loaf using a premix with added fruit.  Here is a loaf he made tonight.

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The white loaf is the same shape but generally not as high.

However, his real love is sourdough bread which has led GMan on a quest to create a perfect sourdough loaf.  For those who have asked for the recipe, all I can offer is this link which he found and has followed (in general terms).  It appears to be an art and one in which I have not got involved.  After months of varying degrees of success this was the result from a couple of weeks ago.  Gman believes that it is definitely worth the effort.

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I eat very little bread these days as most gluten-free breads are not that great, expensive and heavily packaged in plastic.

Credit to inspired + delicious Facebook page for this bread recipe.

1 cup buckwheat groats
2 cups hot water (almost boiling)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons psyllium husk
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil

Soak the buckwheat in hot water with apple cider vinegar overnight.

Next day, place buckwheat plus liquid in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and blend well.  Place mixture in a greased, lined loaf tin and allow to stand for 15 – 30minutes to allow psyllium to soak in properly.  Bake at 200C until browned and it bounces back when you poke it.  This is approximately 30 – 40 minutes.

This is the basic recipe but you can add whatever else you choose.

My first loaf had a handful each of sunflower seeds and pepitas added to the basic mixture.

Here are a couple of slices toasted.  While it is perfectly edible as bread it is really delicious as toast.

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One of the things I do miss about bread is having grilled cheese on toast.  This is not an everyday food but an occasional treat.  I really enjoyed this for lunch the other day.

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Since I regarded my first attempt as a success, I decided to expand my repertoire and modify it to make a spicy fruit loaf.  I added 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of mixed spice, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, some sultanas and dried cranberries and omitted the pepitas.

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I am now happily dreaming of other flavour options.  I think the next attempt may be a savoury one – sun-dried tomato and olive.

While I am not going to be eating bread for every meal, it is great to have a plastic-free, unpackaged, gluten-free bread that is quick and easy to make.

Unpackaged bread has been my major success for Plastic-Free July this year.

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